Kaysan Jamil Ninvalle is not your usual 12-year-old. He is big boned (5’5 “and 145 pounds), a big
eater and can already find his way around while alone in a vehicle. Though he tends to be reticent when among the media, those who are familiar with the Taurus-born Ninvalle would tell of his gabby and humourous side.
But those traits are not what the pre-teen is known nationally for.
In fact if you mention pre-cadet table tennis in the English speaking Caribbean his name is bound to come up. Ninvalle has been creating waves ever since he picked up his first racquet some seven years ago.
Today he is the Caribbean 11-Under champion, won a bronze medal in the World Hope Camp and is now preparing to spar with the best 13-Under in the Caribbean next month. “I love playing tennis. I play almost every day and I don’t get fed up,” Ninvalle had said in a previous interview.
So enthusiastic and fearless is the big hitting raising star that he is known to frequently roam between the Under-15 to Under -21 categories is search of competition.
Back in 2009, Kaysan’s elder brother Khalil was a hot commodity on the pre-cadet scene and so the former involvement in the sport became a natural progression. In view of their obvious passion the boys were rewarded with a new tennis table by their parents.
Sibling rivalry was settled on the table from then on and even though Khalil would have the upper hand in the first two years, his younger brother improved with every game. Soon after Kaysan, a pupil of Mae’s School at that time, was winning competitions held at the school and at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall.
Coached by “Sir Muniram” he made easy work of the novice category and sounded a warning when, as the youngest member of Team Guyana, he copped a bronze medal at the Caribbean Championships held here in 2013.
Better things were yet to come.
In 2016, at just 10 years old, the offensive player won the national 11 and Under and National 13 and Under titles. He narrowly missed out on making the triple after having to settle for runner up in the 15 and Under category.
For that exploit Ninvalle was rechristened ‘The Baby Faced Assassin’ in one section of the local press. He soon after travelled to Jamaica and won two silver medals in the Team 13 and Under category and polished off a sublime performance by winning Guyana’s only singles gold medal at the tournament.
For this he was offered a full scholarship at Chase Academy. So impressive was his showing in Jamaica that the local Table Tennis ‘Assassin’ became the first Guyanese selected for the prestigious World Hope Training Camp which was being held in Peru.
Battling the best in Latin America, the young Guyanese returned home with a hard-earned bronze medal even though he fell and injured his knee the night before the competition. His coach of years Linden Johnson believes that Ninvalle has special talent.
“Kaysan is one of our brightest prospects. He is one of the smartest and disciplined players around. He learns fast and is a quick thinker. He also listens attentively when being coached,” Johnson said. “We are now looking to move him up to the next level and prepare him for the 2022 youth Olympics, but first he will have the Caribbean Championships in Jamaica,” Johnson disclosed.
Ninvalle, a first form student is not about sport alone. He has managed to stay focused on his academics also and last term achieved an 80 percent average. “My parents always tell me about the importance of being rounded so even though I train for tennis I also have to do my studies,” the national athlete stated.
“I just try to do the best I can. I train very hard; sometimes six days a week. Tennis means a lot to me and I want to be the best,” the Caribbean champion declared.
Highly animated and vociferous when in competition mode, young Ninvalle acknowledged that his crowning moment was when he was voted 2016 Junior Sports Man of the Year. He was still 11 years old at that time and became the youngest to have received that award. “I was going up against several big names so I was a bit nervous. I almost couldn’t believe when my name was called,” he opined.
He admitted that the pressure has stepped up since he won Guyana’s only Gold at the Caribbean Championships but is confident that there is nothing himself and coach Johnson are unable to handle.
“Right now I am preparing for Jamaica (Caribbean Pre-Cadet) but my goal is to represent Guyana at the Olympics and win a medal. I think I can do that,” the `Baby Faced Assassin declared.
Ninvalle credited his success to the inputs of father Steve and mother Noel, coach Linden Johnson, his brother Khalil, and his grandmother Claire, uncles Andy and Cassius and Aunt Pamela Evelyn, Mayfield Rodrigues and Michelle (Gail Ann) Robinson who have always been there in times of need.
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